enter norwegian dreamer aurora's queendom in her intimate new music video
It's a place for all of us.
“The underdogs are my lions,” opens Aurora’s first single in two years, “the silent ones are my choir. The women will be my soldiers, with the weight of life on their shoulders.” Last month 21-year-old Aurora Aksnes released Queendom, a follow up to her 2016 debut album, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend. Out on Decca, it’s a powerful siren call to arms; offering up a safe space to her dedicated fandom -- her warriors -- and beyond. “Queendom is about celebrating all the differences in us...” she shares, “the quiet ones and the introverts, where they can sing and be seen. It’s about the shy people and the lonely people and I hope it can be a place where we can come and be lonely together and then not be lonely anymore. Queendom is a place for all of us.” Ideal.
For those that somehow missed her world tours, live TV performances and dark but beautiful music that has racked up millions upon millions of streams, you should know that in Norway, Aurora is music royalty. There’s something otherworldly about her; always seeming either on the verge of boldly leading a Viking army into battle or totally enchanting you with a smile and one of her weird idiosyncrasies. The self-assured young artist has made her country proud and, in reaching global success, led the way for a slew of others -- her friend Sigrid, for example, as well as local indie label Vibbefanger and this talented lot.
Today we’re excited to be sharing the video for Queendom, directed by Polish-Australian visual artist Kinga Burza, who has previously worked with Dua Lipa and Lana Del Rey. It might seem unlikely that a dance video would be a natural fit for Aurora, but this is is different; expressive but gentle, her and her dancers move sensually then animalistically through a decaying building bathed in sunlight. There’s fierce stomping, a bonus appearance from an actual lamb, and everybody kissing everybody else -- Aurora included. All this set to her anthemic leftfield pop, urging us to respect the earth and each other, to celebrate flaws and see that the underdog ends up on top. If this is her Queendom, we want in.
To celebrate the video release we call Aurora, who just arrived back in Bergen from California where she played Coachella. She’s laying in bed in her apartment, the curtains shutting out the morning sun and leaving her room in darkness -- it was hot in the desert and she’s had enough of sunlight but is well up for a sleepy chat.
Morning Aurora! How was your trip?
The second weekend was almost 40 degrees and I think I died about eight times that day, again and again, but I came back. Heat destroys me. It was a strange experience because I don’t know if it was more about the music or people taking pictures of themselves. It was a vain festival rather than a free one, so it was a weird energy for me.
Queendom has been out for a month now. What has the reaction been like?
It’s fun for me because the song is just like a little seed -- the beginning of the whole flower that the album will become. It feels so wonderful to finally put the seeds in the ground and make people wait for the flower. It’s nice to see how people have accepted Queendom into their arms, because that’s what the whole song is about.
Do you remember the mood in the studio when it was born?
We came up with the title Queendom and I realised I hadn’t really heard that word ever, so I wanted to explain what it was to me. We sat in a room at looked out at the ocean and had a few beers in the studio -- it was a really joyful day, which I think you can hear in the spirit of Queendom. It’s quite powerful and joyful.
Did you work closely with the music video director, Kinga Burza ?
I always do. Queendom is a bit different in mood to what I usually do. It’s about serious things but done in a very light way, because you can dance to it also. It isn’t about the place, it’s a state of mind, so the idea was for the video to be quite delicate, soft, inviting and free. I have these dancers and and I wanted us to be always touching, always together. It’s very connected; we’re always intertwined.
The dancing turns into a big kissing party.
Yes! I wanted to make it clear that every type of love is accepted and embraced in my Queendom. I think that kissing is one of the most vulnerable and beautiful things that you can do, and I’m kissing one of the dancers -- she was beautiful. It’s kind of a little message from me to my fans, because a very big group of my fans are from the gay community. I know that there are many different obstacles that they meet on their path and it makes me upset and angry to think about.
What does your Queendom look like? Is there a visual that springs to mind?
I guess if it was a landscape, it would look like the nice areas from Lord Of The Rings… maybe like Rivendell or something. That sounds good, doesn’t it?
It does. How has your life changed since All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend ?
I feel very much the same, only a bit more informed about myself, the world, my purpose and everything that you learn on the way. My world has changed; it’s a bit bigger now, and my arms are a bit longer -- I feel like they can reach wider and further than before, emotionally. I’ve met so many new people and it’s really changed the way I look upon my mission. I see that it’s much bigger than I thought it would ever be. Already my group of lovely warriors stretch all over the world and speak to each other and connect. We’re quite a close family. I’ve noticed recently that I need to be kind to myself to make sure I have enough energy for all these people.
How do you do that?
In some ways I haven’t really figured out how, but I like to visit quiet places, to keep on reading books, go on mountain hikes, and to isolate myself for really short periods.
Talking of hiking, you’re working on an environmental project. What’s the plan?
I’ve always been very passionate about mother earth because I have such a close relationship with her. Living in Norway, she’s all around, so it’s really upsetting to see how far we’ve come in ruining the only planet we have. I think when it’s pushed upon you from so many different directions it seems too much. I’m trying to make people realise that it’s doable; that you can take small steps every day. I’ve found a way to combine this with my music, live shows and fanbase. I want to combine helping the environment with our community around the planet. That’s all I can say for now, but I’m very excited about it.
So what small changes have you made, that you think other people should too?
I haven’t shaved any hair on my whole body for like, a year. It really helps not using disposable razors because they’re made of so many different materials that it’s almost impossible to recycle. I also buy toothbrushes that are made of a recyclable material, and each time you buy one, a poor child gets one also. These are really small things, but they matter. Then of course you have to recycle your garbage. I don’t eat meat, I just eat fish. I so fly a lot because I have to tour. You can’t do everything, but it matters that you do something. I think that’s the best way to begin at least.
You’re 21 now. What advice would you give to 16-year-old Aurora?
I would tell her to listen to and trust her instincts even more, because it’s a shame to waste good energy on nothing.
It takes a while to realise. What do you think you’ll be like as an old person?
I think it would suit me extremely well to be an old lady. I kind of look like an old lady from behind with my jackets and skirts. I can’t wait to be an old lady; I’m gonna really celebrate myself and my life, and I’m gonna constantly be dancing. If you’re old and crazy, it’s even better than being young and crazy. I can’t wait.
Finally, if you were a wrestler, what would your entrance music be?
Maybe the whistling track from Kill Bill... Twisted Nerve? I’m really small so I think it would be nice and creepy, and maybe I’d scare the other person away.